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With some questionable health advice being posted by your friends on Facebook, politicians arguing about the state of the American healthcare system and a new medical study being summarized in just a sentence or two on TV---that seems to contradict the study you heard summarized yesterday---it can be overwhelming to navigate the ever changing landscape of health news.Every Thursday at 5:42 a.m., 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m., Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs provides health information you can trust. With trustworthy sources, she explores the fact and fiction surrounding various medical conditions and treatments, makes you aware of upcoming screenings, gives you prevention strategies and more…all to your health.

To Your Health: Thyroid Nodules

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Have you ever wondered why, during your annual physical, your physician feels your neck? They may be checking for thyroid nodules.

Hello, I’m Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs at Southeast Missouri State University. January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. There are a variety of reasons nodules can develop and many people have thyroid nodules. Mayo Clinic reports most thyroid nodules aren't serious. However, if your doctor feels one, or you notice one large enough that it is visible or makes it difficult to swallow or breathe, you will need to take action.

Typically, your doctor will order an ultrasound of your thyroid. If nodules with certain criteria determined by radiologists, such as irregular margins, are found, the next step may be a fine needle aspiration biopsy. Guided by ultrasound, a clinician extracts a small sample of tissue and sends it for analysis. Based on the results, and the size and rate of growth of the nodules, your physician may refer you to a surgeon for a partial or complete thyroidectomy.

In a partial thyroidectomy, the remaining lobe may produce enough thyroid hormone to make up for the missing half, but in a complete thyroidectomy, hypothyroidism results, requiring you to take synthetic thyroid hormone replacement indefinitely. While cancerous thyroid nodules are rare, the pathology following a thyroidectomy may reveal thyroid cancer. The majority of thyroid cancers are treatable and have an excellent prognosis. The National Cancer Institute reports a 98.4% 5-year survival rate.

Resources:

https://www.goodrx.com/health-topic/thyroid/thyroid-awareness-month-2022

Homepage (new)

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/thyroid-nodules/symptoms-causes/syc-20355262

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/thyroid-fine-needle-aspiration-biopsy

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6189162/

https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/thyro.html

Sung S. A., Eun-Kyung K., Dae, R.K. , Sung-Kil, L., Jin, Y.K., & Min, J.K.. (2010). American Journal of Roentgenology, 194:1, 31-37.

Dr. Brooke Hildebrand Clubbs is an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership, Middle & Secondary Education. She writes for special publications of The Southeast Missourian and is a certified Community Health Worker.